Double-Double Gratitude, Happy Thanksgivukkah!

A Turkey-shaped Challah

A Turkey-shaped Challah

This year, I think I’ll celebrate Thanksgiving in a Jewish home because I don’t want to miss out on Thanksgivukkah. That’s the pop culture portmanteau neologism for the first day of Hanukkah that falls on Thanksgiving this year. (Such a phrase! Oy, the fun!)

This is the first and only Thanksgivukkah in our lifetimes. The next one is 70,000 years from now. Since both holidays are about giving thanks, it’s double-double gratitude happy happy joy joy, 2X the love.

The Thanksgivukkah Meal

A Thanksgivukkah menu combines the best foods from both holidays: Manizchewitz-brined turkey….challah stuffing….pumpkin pie with caraway and seeds in the crust. The Internet is a cornucopia of creative and healthy Thanksgivukkah recipes. My favorites are from Christine Byrne for BuzzFeed who has nine original recipes that combine the best foods from both holidays for us. I am considering these recipes:

Your thoughts, Will you be celebrating Thanksgivukkah? What’s for dinner? 

Squatters Get Free Subway Rides

Subway Squat

This is right up my alley. I ride the subway, I worship squats, and I’m all over free stuff. The proof is in my archives:
Do You Know (How to) Squat?
If You See Something Say Something
3 Degrees of Separation from Snackman
Cock-a-Leekie Soup and Free Yogurt

And so, you can imagine my excitement when I read the headline today:

—-   Russian Commuters Can Earn Free Subway Ticket by Doing Squats   —-

The news is that the Russian Committee for the 2014 Winter Olympics (in Russia) came up with a cool promotion for one month. They are giving away a free travel ticket to anyone who does thirty squats. How clever is that? And look at how easy it was to set up the ticket machine:

If this is another Space Race, then Russia is beating us for supremacy in physical fitness, public health and public relations campaigns. Our subway stunts don’t promote healthy behavior. Do you remember when Heineken Took Over the NYC MTA? You know, I’m going to email Mike Bloomberg, Michelle Obama, and Stephen Colbert too right now.

Your thoughts: Should Americans get free subway tickets for doing squats?

Have a Complicated Halloween

Halloween Letter Fargo MomDid you see the Halloween letter from Anonymous Mom? She is handing it out instead of candy to overweight kids. Her stand against childhood obesity made the media outlets. Too bad she doesn’t know that shaming doesn’t work. Weight prejudice seems to be socially acceptable now and will become more so when healthcare costs are transparent. But back to today and the conflicts Americans have about Halloween candy. Check out yesterday’s Tweets:

  • How to talk to your kids about Halloween candy.
  • Watch out for these common (and gross!) ingredients in Halloween candy.
  • Don’t get caught giving petroleum, GMOs, and trans fat to little children.
  • Artificial dyes linked to M+Ms.
  • What it takes to burn off your Halloween treats.
  • Food Allergies: Could Halloween Kill My Child?
  • 7 Terrifying Facts About Halloween Candy!

Danger! Danger! And still, the kids return with their sacks full.

A few years ago, I was asked to write about the “healthiest” Halloween candy. What could I say? “Give out candy that won’t get eaten.” Dum Dum Lollipops, wax lips, and candy buttons stuck on paper tape. Nobody eats those. Pencils, stickers, and temporary tattoos, All good. As you can image, my Dietitian’s Guide to Halloween Candy wasn’t well received. The comments tell all.

Realistically, Halloween night is a free-for all. Everybody eats candy. That goes on for another day or two, but sooner rather than later, candy is rationed to one piece at lunch and another after school. Some is shared with grown-ups or relegated to the freezer or traded with a friendly dentist for cash. (Just don’t dump candy on the Food Bank because needy people need real food!)

I’ve stated my feelings about junk before in Eat Only the Junk Food That You Make. But homemade doesn’t fly on Halloween because of hidden razor blades. Oy! Razor blades, artificial dyes, barbs from Anonymous Mom. Halloween is complicated.

Your thoughts: What is your Halloween candy plan?

Confessions of a Wheat Germ Lover

Wheat GermA brief interaction on Twitter led Kretschmer Wheat Germ to me. They are considering me for a “Happy Wheat Germ User” feature, but needed to know more first.

Wheat Germ and Me

As a nutrition-loving baby boomer, it seems like I have always known about wheat germ. Along with soy protein and non-fat dried milk, it was part of Cornell Bread, a staple food developed for wartime rationing in the 1940s (well before my birth!) My first encounter with a regular wheat germ eater took the form of a woman from Switzerland I met in my late teens. She ate wheat germ for breakfast mixed with avocado and honey or as part of muesli along with yogurt. I like to add wheat germ to recipes for pancakes, muffins, veggie burgers, and meatballs. My favorite Wheat Germ Bread is from Jane Brody’s Good Food Book via Kretschmer Wheat Germ a long time ago.

The Original Super-food

As a registered dietitian, people complain to me about feeling stiff-achy-and-punk. Their children are listless and their parents are falling apart with inflammatory diseases and cancers. To them I say, “You really ought to be eating wheat germ!” Wheat germ is LOADED with B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folic acid), vitamin E and essential fatty acids, the minerals iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, copper and zinc, plus protein and phenolic compounds. Wheat germ is the nazz! In fact, the germ is the richest part of the wheat kernel, which is why white flour is a problem: the germ (and bran) is tossed during in processing. Such a sin.

An Image Problem

A “germ” is a seed, bud, spore, or embryo, the basis of all new life. A plant germ is highly nutritious because it has the nutrients to support future growth.  A “germ” is also a microorganism, especially one that produces disease. People today don’t seem to know that one germ has nothing to do with the other. Wheat germ needs a re-branding campaign. I can help with that.

Here are three good wheat germ recipes from my recipe files at Calorie Count:

Your thoughts: Do you eat (and enjoy) wheat germ?

The Cleansing Power of Dayenu

THANXNo, it’s not a laundry detergent. It’s a song I learned at my first Passover Seder two weeks ago, and now I can’t get it out of my head – which is a good thing. Dayenu is a traditional Passover song about being grateful to God for the gifts he gave the Jewish people. For 15 stanzas, the leader says something or other and we, the audience, respond with “Dayenu.” “Dayenu” means one gift would have been enough.
“If he had split the sea for us…It would have been enough for us.”
“If He had led us through on dry land…It would have been enough for us.”
The song is surprisingly upbeat despite its woeful subject matter.

And so It’s All Dayenu All the Time for me. Honestly, the concept that taken over my brain. I lie in bed, wake up, and I think, “I am so comfortable here on this memory foam mattress.…it would have been enough.…my pillow is perfect too….it would have been enough….and the light is so beautiful streaming in through the window.…it would have been enough.… It makes it easy to be thankful for every single thing.

The other day, my friend, the Passover hostess, who lives around the corner said, “Let’s meet on the sidewalk.” I thought to have a friend who lives around the corner…it would have been enough.…to meet on a brand-new sidewalk….it would have been enough….to face a beautiful museum….it would have been enough….on such a sunny day….it would have been enough….

Somehow, I don’t think the Scholars of The Torah had this in mind – but it works for me. Saying Dayenu has a cleansing effect that I can feel. Gratitude changes us on a cellular level. When we feel thankful, our cells transmit chemicals that enhance our nervous system, immune system, cardiovascular system – all systems –  that are consistent with good health. The “cleansing” delivers a sense of calm and peacefulness that forms a base for mindful living and healthy eating too.

Your thoughts about attitude, gratitude, and Dayenu….

Adorkable Easter Appetizers

Easter Appetizers Deviled EggsA lot of people ask me, Mary, do you make adorkable appetizers for every holiday? I say, not really, but if I do make anything, I make these. I like my appetizers to be wholesome, easy, attention-getting, and appealing to kids. Besides, my traffic spiked traffic to 10,000 hits a day because of those Strawberry Santas at Christmas. The people have spoken. Adorkable appetizers it is! Click on the links for “how-to” recipe information.

 

Eggy Chicks, Roosters and Bunnies

File these appetizers under “What to Do with the Hard-cooked Eggs.” The deviled Easter egg chicks (above) are my favorite and the no-devil roosters and happy-face chicks are easy enough to make, but the deviled bunnies are scary to me; however, I’ve seen worse. Rachel Ray shows how to make the deviled egg chicks.

Easter no devil Easter roostersEaster Bunny_deviled_eggs_Lg (1)

Raw Vegetables Appetizers Kids will Eat Easter Potted CarrotsEaster Appetizers Smurf Mushrooms

Rule number one: kids love to dip. I love these Potted Carrots and Dip from Toys in the Dryer and the Smurfy Radish Mushrooms from The Paper Pony. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

Easter Appetizers Chick Breadeaster_chickbunsEaster Chick Buns

Granted, making bread is a lot harder than boiling an egg, but how sweet are these little chick rolls?  Grandma’s Kitchen shows you how.

 

Scary Bunnies

Tell me if this pear bunny doesn’t look like a rat? The recipe is from my childhood cookbook and it still creeps me out.

Easter Pear Bunny Image_2Easter_ betty_crocker_boys_and_girls-thumb-250x343Easter bunny_salad-thumb-500x671

Your thoughts: Do you see adorkable Easter appies in your near future?

You Are No Match for Big Food as Stephen Colbert Explains

So, by now, everybody knows that, at the 11th hour, a New York State Supreme Court Judge overturned Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to ban the sale of large sugary drinks in New York City restaurants. Constitutionality aside, I think the judge didn’t want to wait in the long line at Dunkin’ Donuts. There will be appeals and the lawyers will get rich because the American Beverage Association spends millions and billions to fight soda taxes and laws like Bloomberg’s across the land every year. People don’t understand that we all pay for obesity in higher taxes to support Medicare, Medicare, disability benefits, etc.  And “personal responsibility” is no match against foods that are engineered and marketed to make us overeat. Stephen Colbert explains it better than I. Watch.

Confusion at the Coffee Counter

Dunkin' Donuts Flyer

Dunkin’ Donuts Flyer

Call me blogger in absentia. I’ve been busy freelancing for the public relations agency that represents Eggland’s Best eggs – the eggs that are superior in nutrition, with twice the vitamin D, ten times more vitamin E, more than double the omega-3s, 35% more lutein, and 25% less saturated fat – compared to ordinary eggs. It’s all about the chicken feed. I eat EB eggs. And that is public relations.

But I had to take a break to comment about this flyer that comes to you newly at the Dunkin’ Donuts check out counter in New York City. Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on the sale of sugar beverages larger that 16-ounces goes into effect next week.Dunkin’ Donuts want to get ahead of the confusion, which shows that it’s easier to complain than it is to fix.

Here’s the deal: if your hot coffee is smaller than 16-ounces, Dunkin’ will add the sugar for you, but if your hot coffee is size large or X-large, then you’ll have to add the sugar yourself. For iced beverages, do-it-yourself sugar service starts with size medium because, for iced, medium is the large hot and large is the hot X-large. Got it? That ice has to go somewhere. For beverages that already come with added sugar, like hot chocolate or that oxymoron, frozen hot chocolate, you cannot buy a portion larger than medium – but you can buy two or more.

So, now, you will have to think twice before adding six sugar packets to your “Extra Extra.” Teeheehee. And it doesn’t stop there. Bloomberg is going after the Styrofoam cup next.

Your thoughts: Mayor Bloomberg: Yea or Nay?

Read about mayor’s public health campaigns in The New York Times:
City’s New Drink Rules Add Wrinkle to Coffee Orders
To Go: Plastic-Foam Containers, if the Mayor Gets His Way

Adorkable Christmas Appetizers

Black Olive Penguin
To minimize my calorie intake from holiday appetizers, I make appies that are almost too cute to eat. Not that they aren’t delicious and nutritious (and low in calories), I simply want to keep them around a little longer. This year, I plan to reintroduce the penguins that were such a hit in 2011 – plus two more appies that are more about fun than food. All are are quick and easy enough for a slacker like me!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Pinterest…

Pinterest is a great place to find photos of creative recipes. Here are the Pinterest pages for my favorite holiday appetizers, Penguin Appetizers, Strawberry Santas, and Cheese Reindeer. So many pictures! Modern living – you must open the links.

Penguin Appetizers

My Penguin Appetizers, 2011

Originally from the blog FoodieWithFamily.com, these super cute cream cheese-filled black olive penguins are the hit of every party. AND, they have only four ingredients – olives, cream cheese, carrot, and green onions – and the toothpicks that hold them together.  I like my penguins to ice skate on a silver tray. See the recipe for Black Olive Penguins.

Strawberry Santas  

Strawberry Santas

Popular on Pinterest with only four ingredients again – large strawberries, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla – the chocolate sprinkle or seed eyes are optional. This recipe is oh so no work. Check out the Strawberry Santas from JustAPinch.com.

Cheese Reindeer

Reindeer Appetizers

This easy appetizer is – again – (I didn’t plan this) made with only four ingredients – a Laughing Cow cheese wedge, pretzels, olive, and red pepper, so its creator says. As for me, I think the nose is a maraschino cherry and there are more chocolate sprinkles for the eyes. Here’s the recipe for Cheese Reindeer from CuteFoodForKids.com.

Your thoughts: Do you have a cute Christmas recipe for a slacker to pass along?

Pie from The Automat

I am still working my way through the sugar pumpkins I bought – cheap – after Halloween. They are stored on the fire escape and I have to eat them before the hard freeze.

Yesterday, I made a Pumpkin Pie that is worthy of a recommendation. The recipe is authentic from Horn & Hardart’s Automat, a fixture in New York City, opened in 1912 to flourish in branches for the next 50 years. Drop a nickel in a slot, open the door, and pull out your dish. Sandwiches, hot dishes, and desserts – lunch for office workers and tourists.

The Pumpkin Pie recipe is a take-away from an exhibit at the New York Public Library, Lunch Hour NYC, through February 17, 2013 at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. Drawing on materials from throughout the Library, the exhibit looks back at more than a century of New York City lunches, exploring the ways in which New York City—work-obsessed and time-obsessed—reinvented lunch. But honestly, Lunch Hour NYC, the online exhibition is really good too. Dig deep because there’s a lot there.

PUMPKIN PIE (from Horn & Hardart’s Automat)
2 cups of cooked pumpkin (mashed)
¾ tbsp. salt (I used less)
1 can (14 ½ fl. oz) evaporated milk
2 eggs
¾ cup sugar
1 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ginger
¼ tsp. nutmeg

Heat over to 425o
Beat all ingredients together with a rotary beater or wire whisk. Pour into a pastry-lined 9-inch pan.
Bake 40-45 minutes. Insert a silver knife into the filling about one inch from the side of the pan. If the knife comes out clean, the filling is done.

Watch “The Automat” scenes from THAT TOUCH OF MINK (1962) with Doris Day, Cary Grant, Gig Young, and Audrey Meadows.

Your thoughts: Have you been to The Automat? Tell us about it.